5 Questions with Blake Erickson and Jay James-Moody

Blake Erickson

Blake Erickson

Jay James-Moody: When you only have three weeks to rehearse a full scale musical, what is your process?
Blake Erickson: Research, research, research. I draw on inspiration from a wide range of sources. Obviously everything begins with the text, but people are complex, so I start to think about the influences on a characters life. When I’ve done that I begin fleshing out a character starting with their voice. Then it’s all up to what happens in a rehearsal room, the wonderful thing is that it’s a different experience every time!

Do you find it easier or more difficult working with collaborators you have a long performing history with?
When you’ve worked with someone before it does take the mystery out of it and you do get to move straight to the work rather than the usual ‘getting to know you’ side of producing a show. That said, there’s nothing I love more than new collaborations. Old friends or new, it’s wonderful to be in a room with like-minded people working toward a common goal. The theatre is a bit magical like that.

How would you say the industry of music theatre has changed in the time you have been involved?
There’s so much more! When I started out less than a decade ago there seemed to be a dearth of new work, small shows, and independent works. That has changed considerably thanks to people taking risks and having the courage to actually create something – be it a venue, a company, a show, a song, a play, even a rehearsal space.

When being tasked with bringing a character named Velociraptor of Faith to life, where do you draw your inspiration?
Religion aside, the concept of ‘faith’ to me suggests an enormous amount of self-confidence and strength. I approached the character looking at performances that have impressed me due to their quiet intensity and power. The work of Frances Conroy, Meryl Streep, and Laura Dern (ironically enough considering her Jurassic Park pedigree) have been particularly influential.

What is the most compelling reason an audience should come and watch Triassic Parq?
When I sat down to read the script for Triassic Parq, it was (and remains) the funniest script I have ever read in my entire life. Now I’ve seen it on stage with these extraordinary performers at the top of their game, it remains the funniest musical I have ever seen in my entire life. How could you resist?

Jay James-Moody

Jay James-Moody

Blake Erickson: When Squabbalogic chooses a show to produce, what most informs your decision?
Jay James-Moody: “Is this something I’m going to want to watch 20 times?” is the primary drive. There are a few other motivations including “I’m desperate to see this and nobody else is going to do it” and “I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.” More selfish reasons are “Is there a part in this for me?”

A lot of actors send you headshots and bios when audition time rolls around, do you have any do’s and don’ts or general advice for those aspiring to work with the company?
If you write me an email and address me as “James”, I tend to frown on that. It’s also telling when we are approached by actors who actually haven’t seen our work. That says a few things. But I never mind someone getting in touch and letting me know they are interested in coming on board. In terms of auditions, I want to meet people who are authentic as people and give me the impression that we will have a good time together for a few weeks and aren’t going to be trouble. Folks who are team players. Your reputation on the grapevine also counts for a lot.

Who in the business would you most like to work with, but haven’t yet had the opportunity?
It’s an incredibly long list, and we have already been very fortunate to have ticked off a number of names. A few names that spring to mind: Michelle Doake, Genevieve Lemon, Sharon Millerchip, Mitchell Butel, Bert La Bonte, Peter Carroll…

What is “Australian musical theatre” to you?
Something that needs and deserve more attention and support – not people decapitating tall poppies with a ride-on lawnmower.

You win $10m on an instant scratchie, what do you do?
Start development on that 500 – 1200 seat theatre Sydney desperately need.

Jay James-Moody is directing Blake Erickson in Triassic Parq a comedy musical involving dinosaurs!
Dates: 17 June – 4 July, 2015
Venue: Seymour Centre